It occurred to me that a great potential setting for a game like this could be a fantasy version of ancient Greece. If I mashed together the gods and heroes from the mythical era with rival city states and Athenian-style democracy from the classical period, this could be a great starting point.
|No wonder they are fighting, it looks really crowded in there.|
Picture yoinked from wikimedia.org and is allegedly in the public domain.
The main thrust of the game is now that each player controls one of the city states and each turn you have to balance the will of the gods with the will of the people, and woe betide anyone who ignores them both. Both of those demanding factions are fickle and capricious, so getting a random deal of cards (showing a demand from one or both of gods or people) each round should model that pretty well. We can have a measure of divine anger and civil unrest for each player, and if those get too high, the game is lost, and those measures can also impact how other things work out.
I'm not yet sure how to win the game at this point. It could simply be a matter of surviving a certain amount of time without the balance breaking down, but I think there needs to be more of an interesting finale to build towards. I think this can be developed later -- knowing that the basic play of the game works is probably more important -- but I need to keep it in mind and come up with something before too long, even if that changes later.
Of course, this could all be so much easier if it was a competitive game, but that is not the challenge, and would probably end up with something rather more vanilla.
I want this game to have a board, rather than being just a card game, largely so we can see armies moving around on a map. This might just get abstracted to a circle where you attack and defend left and right. In fact that is probably enough for a first iteration, and if more scope for manoeuvre is found to be required, then so be it. So that means that some of the actions available will boil down to deploying troops either to your left or your right, and using them to attack or defend. Part of the game would therefore end up being to fight battles and win glory, but not being too effective at it.
That would make for quite a dull game, so there needs to be more going on out there. Building temples to the gods would probably be good. Something to do with games (of the Olympic variety), maybe. Also economic elements, including production of goods domestically and trade, both with the other players and with off-board non-player powers. To get with the mythical element, doing things like launching a thousand ships to attack Troy would be cool too.
As I write, I am starting to put together a very basic prototype to try the principles out, using a few of the ideas I have mentioned above. Next time I write on this subject, I will relate how that went.
Before that happens, though, I am feeling a bit of a 24 hour challenge buzz...